The Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS)

Graduate Programme

Graduate Programme2019-12-03T16:44:14+01:00

EPS Graduate Programme 2020

Programmes that fall under the Top Sector, are decided on every two years. This year, NWO needs to take a decision for funding of programmes in 2020 and 2021. NWO has not yet made a decision on organizing a call for the Graduate Programme Green Top Sectors in 2020. As soon as the decision is made public, it will also be announced here.

EPS Graduate Programme 2019

If you are a talented MSc student interested in pursuing a scientific career in the plant sciences you can now apply to the 2019 EPS Graduate Programme. We offer talented MSc students the opportunity to write their own PhD proposals. You can participate as part of your MSc programme.

The EPS Graduate Programme will prepare you for the 2019 NWO-ENW call ‘Graduate Programme Green Top Sectors’ (call title may be subject to change). The 4-8 best applicants in the call will be selected by NWO to carry out their own PhD project in the group of their choice. Projects will be funded by NWO as part of the Top Sectors Agri & Food and Horticulture & Propagation Materials. The plant breeding industry will also contribute to the programme.

12-15 MSc students can participate in the EPS graduate programme. Please find information below regarding:

  1. How to enter the EPS Graduate Programme;
  2. The educational elements in the EPS Graduate Programme;
  3. NWO requirements and procedure;
  4. Time schedule.

How to enter the EPS Graduate Programme

If you would like to participate in the EPS Graduate Programme, please send your application to the executive secretary of EPS, Ingrid Vleghels ( and include in your application:

  • A CV with BSc and MSc grades
  • A recommendation letter from a university staff member (of one of the in EPS participating universities);
  • A letter with your motivation.

Deadline for application: 15 January 2019

Selection will be based on your BSc & MSc grades, references and motivation. An interview will be part of the selection procedure.

Participation is possible if:

  • You are an MSc student at one of the in EPS participating universities (WU, UU, UvA, LU, RU, VU and RUG), an Erasmus student or exchange student;
  • You started the MSc study in the academic year 2017 or 2018.

The educational elements in the EPS Graduate Programme

If you are accepted to the programme, you will continue your MSc programme at your university and in addition you will participate in the educational elements of the EPS Graduate Programme as part of the optional courses or free choice in your MSc programme.

The following education elements are part of the EPS Graduate Programme:

  • Getting acquainted with experimental plant sciences (2 ECTS)
  • The Research Master Cluster (12 ECTS); cursory element needs to be taken in Wageningen;

Ad. 1. Getting acquainted with experimental plant sciences:

This subject will be offered as a ‘capita selecta’ subject of 2 ECTS credits. The following elements will be part of this subject:

  • Three visits to EPS chair groups during which you will get acquainted with the research activities of the chair group under supervision of an EPS staff member. These visits will be instrumental to choose the group you will write your proposal with.
  • Writing a report about the visits to the EPS chair groups.
  • Participation in the annual EPS scientific meeting in Lunteren April 8 and 9, 2019; you will attend this two-day meeting and meet a.o. with staff members of EPS research groups.
  • Together with your fellow graduate programme students you will have a meeting with one of the keynote speakers in Lunteren. You will prepare for this meeting by reading scientific articles of this keynote speaker;
  • EPS will organise a visit to a plant breeding company;

Ad. 2. The Research Master Cluster:

In this subject you will work on general skills such as Argumentation and Scientific Writing. All students will write a PhD proposal coached by an EPS staff member: your proposed PhD supervisor. Before the start of the course you will be asked to choose a research group and a coach to write your PhD proposal with. This does not have to be the staff member who wrote your recommendation letter. The cursory elements need to be taken at Wageningen University.

NWO requirements and procedure, selection of PhD proposals

Applicants submit their applications electronically to NWO using the ISAAC account of their writing coaches. The call for proposals with details on how to apply will be published on the NWO website but will also be announced through EPS during the course.

Upon submission of the proposal, NWO will assess the admissibility of the proposal. The requirements can also be found in the call. An important extra requirement is that a contribution of 20 % (partly in kind) of a company is necessary for each project.


An expert committee composed of national and international experts, supplemented with an NWO-ENW staff member, will assess the proposals. An interview with this committee in which the student will be asked to present and defend his/her research proposal will be part of the selection procedure. Depending on the number of PhD proposals the ENW committee may decide to invite only a selection of applicants.

Criteria (based on the previous calls):

  1. Quality of the candidate and research group;
  2. Scientific quality of the proposal;
  3. Research relevance and perspectives for utilisation.

Time schedule

  • Application deadline EPS: 15 January 2019;
  • Selection between 15 January and 15 February 2019;
  • EPS meeting Lunteren: 8 & 9 April 2019;
  • EPS Research Master Cluster: May/June 2019
  • Deadline application to NWO: July 2019 (date to be determined by NWO)